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(Content Warning): New sexual consent laws


First up, we want to acknowledge that sexual consent can be a triggering topic for people who have experienced unsafe or upsetting sexual situations, so please take care when reading this post. If you have experienced sexual contact that was unwanted or that made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, the most important thing to remember is that it wasn't your fault. 💛

There is support available - if you need someone to talk to, please reach out to our community on the forums here, or contact a service like 1800RESPECT, Lifeline or Kids Helpline



New 'affirmative consent' laws

Sexy Do The Right Thing GIF by INTO ACTION


We've talked about consent before in the ReachOut community, but NSW has recently passed some new laws about sexual consent, and some other states are planning to do similar, so we thought now would be a good time to share some info and have a discussion about consent and what the new laws mean.


The new laws about sexual consent are sometimes known as ‘affirmative consent’ laws because they make it really clear that consent has to be free and voluntary, and people can't assume someone else is consenting to sexual activity.
So people have to actively take the time to check that the other person (or people) they’re with actually want to be sexual with them, and they have to be sure the other person has said 'yes'.


It’s against the law to engage in any kind of sexual activity without clear consent from the other person (that includes kissing, touching, having sex, or anything else sexual).

If you want to have a read through the laws relevant to your state, take a look on the Youth Law Australia website for more information.


What is consent?


ReachOut: 5 things you need to know about sexual consent


Consent is basically getting someone’s permission to do something – eg. we might ask permission to borrow something or to take a photo of someone; it’s something we’re used to doing all the time in everyday life.

Consent to be sexual with another person is pretty much the same – we wouldn’t assume someone is okay with us borrowing their car just because they didn’t say no… in the same way, we can’t assume that another person is okay with being sexual, unless we take the time to check with them and ask their permission.  


A person hasn’t consented to sexual activity with someone else unless they say or do something that clearly says ‘yes’!


People can’t consent if they’ve been forced, tricked or intimidated into the sexual activity, they can't give consent if they're under age or can't fully understand consent, and they can’t give consent if they are asleep, unconscious or so affected by drugs or alcohol that they can't give consent.



You still have to make sure you have another person’s consent to sexual activity if:

  • You are in a relationship with them
  • They have agreed to do something sexual with you in the past
  • They have consented to one type of sexual activity, but not a different type



No Means No Sexual Assault GIF by INTO ACTION


People have no obligation to be sexual with anyone, and they can change their mind and withdraw consent at any time.


If a person isn’t sure, wants to slow down, wants to wait, looks uncomfortable, freezes, or says nothing when you ask, then you don’t have consent.


Consent means that both/all people involved are really into being sexual with each other – it’s an:


Consent Love GIF by Njorg



So how can you check if someone is consenting to do something sexual with you?


Ask them what they want to do:

  • Can I kiss you?
  • Is this okay?
  • Do you want to do this?
  • Want me to keep going?
  • How does that feel?
  • What do you want to do next?
  • Do you want to wait?

Ask where their boundaries are:

  • Do you feel comfortable doing this?
  • I was thinking about trying this, how do you feel about that?
  • Should we wait a bit longer?


Check in regularly to make sure they are still comfortable, especially if they start to look uncomfortable or unsure.

Look at their body language and if they seem uncomfortable, stop and ask if they’re okay.


Some signs a person might be uncomfortable are:

  • Freezing
  • Not responding to what you’re doing or saying
  • Tensing up
  • Moving away from you


It's important to check in with people's body language, but it can be super easy to misinterpret, so don't just use body language instead of talking - it is always important to keep checking with the other person to make sure they are still into being sexual with you, and that you still have their consent. 


John Oliver Rape GIF by Mic



So that's a brief rundown of what the new consent laws in NSW (and hopefully soon other states) are about.


Please have a chat and let us know what you think about them...


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